Thomas Kinkade, the prolific painter of bucolic and idealized scenes who estimated that his mass-produced works hung in one out of 20 American homes, died on Friday at his home in Los Gatos, Calif. He was 54.
Though often disdained by the fine art establishment, Mr. Kinkade built a decorative art empire by creating sentimental paintings that were, for the most part, relatively inexpensive and resonated with the desires of homeowners who did not ordinarily buy art. He sold his work directly, through his own franchise galleries or on cable television home shopping networks, and eventually online.
His works were reproduced in books and on posters, canvas prints, hand-signed lithographs and collector’s plates. He likened himself to Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney, insofar as all three “really like to make people happy,” he once said. Many of Mr. Kinkade’s paintings captured scenes from Disney.